• Id_057

    Pablo PIcasso: Nude Woman in a Red Armchair 1932

  • Id_069

    Pablo Picasso: A Child with a Dove 1901

  • Id_067

    Pablo Picasso: Nude on the Beach 1932

  • Id_058

    Pablo Picasso: Guitar, Gas Jet and Bottle 1913

  • Id_066

    Pablo Picasso: Man with a Clarinet 1911-12

  • Id_053

    Pablo Picasso: Still Life (Nature morte) 1914

  • Francis1

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Francis2

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Id_101resized

    Francis Bacon: Crucifixion 1933

  • Id_139

    David Hockney: The Student: Homage to Picasso 1973

  • Id_140

    David Hockney: Artist and Model 1973-74

  • Id_142

    David Hockney: Christopher without his glasses on 1984

  • Id_148

    David Hockney: PAINT TROLLEY, L.A. 1985

Art

What's On: Picasso & Modern British Art

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds,

Picasso, the quintessential maverick, is an artist revered by many, and this latest Tate Britain effort will only further cement his reputation. But this show isn’t mere hero-worship, the emphasis here is on interpretation and an active, rather than passive appreciation. It’s the first of its kind – an exploration of the effect the Spanish master’s work has had on seven British artists, as well as a survey of his varying reception with British collectors, curators, and the public. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s got lots of work and lots of wall text. But most importantly it offers elegant insight into the power of one man’s continually evolving legacy.

Curator Chris Stephens assigned himself a mighty task when he decided to bring together Picasso’s various movements alongside career highlights from British artists Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney.

His chronological approach remains pleasantly un-stiff, with each room boasting its own mythology, rich with anecdotes that carry the show at an entertaining pace. Room One, for instance, tells the tale of a young Duncan Grant who traveled to Paris, met Gertrude Stein and ended up having his mind blown cubist-style by Picasso et. al, before incorporating the artist’s African-style figures and decorative prints into his own work.
 
Continuing from here is another lesser known Picasso exploit – the summer of 1919 he spent in style at the Savoy Hotel during his first trip to London, where he arrived on commission to design costumes and sets for the Russian Ballet’s Three Cornered Hat.

His joyful collection is presented here along with sketches of friends made while fraternising with the best of the British avant-guarde (evenings with Aldous Huxley, Lydia Lopokova, John Maynard Keynes and the critic Clive Bell will live on in dinner-party infamy).

But it wasn’t always high-times for Picasso. Periods of criticism and poorly-received exhibitions plagued the artist throughout much of his early career, and for decades his British collectors numbered very few. Picasso built strong ties with his best British buyers, and the acquisitions of Douglas Cooper and Roland Penrose on show here are of staggering quality – a wonderful mix of well known and never-before-seen gems like a little 3-D collage that recreates Picasso’s Parisian cafe lunch, complete with knife, fork, and plate of saucisson.

The Guardian’s Richard Shone wrote this weekend that in attempting to capture Picasso’s uniquely British legacy, such a show could perhaps instead serve “to denigrate most of Picasso’s British contemporaries, when seen alongside his towering achievements.” It’s a fair point, but fortunately it’s a concern the show manages to sidestep. These seven Brits come across not as slavish followers but rather a group who communally aknolwedge Picasso’s work as a turning point in their own careers.

Henry Moore’s voluptuous wood sculptures are glorious extensions of Picasso’s abstracted female forms, while Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (he abandoned an interior design career upon seeing the Dinard paintings) sits proudly on the wall, a triumph in its own alarming right.

David Hockney famously claims to have seen Picasso’s 1960 Tate blockbuster eight times and, when given the chance in 1980 to create the costumes for the ballet Parade, chose instead to revive Picasso’s own 1919 designs. And in honour of what he considered PIcasso’s most admirable quality, Hockney titled his seminal RCA Young Contemporaries exhibition “Demonstrations of Versatility.”

And it’s this sentiment which perhaps sums up the show’s ethos most succinctley. This is a celebration of Picasso’s variations, his diversity as a master of many media and the broad scope of his influence. He’s the star of the show, the vanguard of seven mignons, and it’s easy to see why we would struggle to find anyone to esteem more enthusiastically.

Through Picasso, generations of painters have learned the expressive power of distortion and the joys of colour. To see his work hung low on the gallery wall is to marvel at it all, from the smallest sketch to the largest canvas still thick with unspread paint.

Picasso & Modern British Art runs from 15 February to 15 July 2012 at Tate Britain.
Portrait11

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds

Californian Charlotte joined us as an editorial intern after studying at New York university and London Metropolitan University. She wrote for the site between January and March 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Main

    Artist Larry van Pelt wants to spread the word that “Jesus in life makes a difference.” Already a keen artist, Florida-based Larry decided to use his creative skills to spread the message, and began drawing Jesus in a number of different working environments. His collection involves a huge range of work scenarios, including a truck driver, a secretary, a carpet layer, a bodybuilder and a french horn player.

  2. List

    We’ve long admired the work of Californian set designer and art director Adi Goodrich. A veritable mistress of creating the sort of strange, cartoon-like scenes that pop with colour and ideas, she’s worked with big-name clients like Michel Gondry and Wieden+Kennedy, but she recently got in touch about an intriguing solo exhibition at The Standard hotel in Hollywood, entitled Like Thiiiiis. The show takes the form of an installation in a glass box behind the hotel’s reception desk, and features a number of images that look to show what it means to be a young creative at the start of your career.

  3. Main

    In a beautiful profile in The Guardian recently, journalist Tim Lewis travelled out to the Hollywood hills to peek behind the gates of Hockney’s jungle-like home to get a glimpse of what the now 77-year-old artist is up to. As it happened, he had been very busy indeed: making a whole bunch of new paintings that are, in classic Hockney-style, moving in a totally different direction from his previous work.

  4. List

    Remember Kim Keever? Back in the summer of 2013, the New York based artist wowed us with his amazing landscapes created in 200-gallon tanks of water and what’s more, he let us in on his process with some fascinating set-up shots. Now, like many a painter before him, Kim has moved from landscapes to more abstract creations albeit within the context of his sculptural practice.

  5. List

    This project by artist Erica Allen is an oldie but such a goodie. Way back in 2008 California-born, Brooklyn-based Erica decided to merge a collection of faces from found barbershop posters with discarded shots of studio backdrops, creating a series of oddly alluring fictional portraits. Removed from their original context, the freshly-trimmed gents pictured come across as utterly anonymous and strangely distant, connected to one another only by a crisp shape-up and a gaze fixed somewhere in the distance. And if that rainbow backdrop didn’t inspire the album artwork for Drake’s Nothing Was the Same then I don’t know what did.

  6. List

    Edmund Clark is one of the most interesting artists working today, exploring what is arguably the defining issue of the past 13 years. He’s interested in the wars waged by the USA and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the fall-out from this foreign policy and how it impacts on us here at home. His new book The Mountains of Majeed continues this theme, as it’s a reflection on “the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan through photography, found imagery and Taliban poetry.”

  7. List

    The secluded French port of Le Havre is a very particular place. Closed off by barriers, it is staffed solely by men, and jobs there are strictly only passed on from father to son. All of which made it the perfect backdrop for artist JR’s contribution to the Women Are Heroes project, which saw him collaborate with the dockers to create a huge image of a woman’s eyes on a 363-metre long container ship.

  8. List

    The bright, woozy haze of Wojciech Fangor’s psychedelic paintings is mesmerising. It’s even more so having learnt that the Polish artist, who worked during the 1960s, created these Op art masterpieces entirely in isolation, working in Eastern Europe having not seen the similar works being created in America and Europe by the likes of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. As such, while the images feel familiar; there’s also something exotic about them, pulsing with light created using intensely coloured oil paint applied in thin layers. A new show named Colour-Light-Space opens next month at London’s 3 Grafton Street gallery, and will display a number of works by Wojciech from the 1960s and 1970s that demonstrate his mastery of all three words in the title. It’s fascinating to think of the artist working on these beautiful optical illusions and explorations of the power of painting well before similar works were created elsewhere in the world, and it’s great to have his work celebrated in the way it deserves.

  9. List

    Mark Lazenby is the go-to guy for collage that just works. We last featured the artist two years ago and since then his portfolio of pieced together artworks has exploded with even more impressive works and a real exploration of materials and collage techniques.

  10. List

    There’s not a pie in the cultural world that James Franco isn’t ready and willing to stick a finger into, and to prove it the actor, director, poet and musician has just announced a new exhibition of his artworks, entitled Fat Squirrel, which is to be held at London’s Siegfried Contemporary gallery. The show is an undeniably eclectic collection, including a number of self portraits of the artist in the guise of various famous historical figures, a deer orgy entitled Triple Team, and some bright painterly collages, not to mention the eponymous overweight rodents which are undoubtedly our favourites.

  11. List

    I’m known for my sweet tooth and ability to consume an obscene amount of cakes, sweets and biscuits in one sitting, so it’ll come as no surprise that I was instantly drawn to Will Cotton’s sugary scenes of candy-laced lands.

  12. List

    Time and again Amy Woodside gets in touch to let us know about new projects she’s cooked up and time and again we’re powerless to resist them. The New York-based artist is focussed to a fault on her fine art practice where iconic letterforms emerge from meticulously registered screen printing and frantic flourishes of spray paint. Where first she caught our eye with multicoloured wordplay, the constant reduction and refinement of her process has resulted in a new series’ of totemic words like ‘Hero’, ‘Cash’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Like’, pre-loaded with cultural context and double meaning, writ large on the canvas. What’s the meaning behind them? The interpretation is up to you, but Amy always seems to be critiquing pop culture with its own visual vernacular and playing fast and loose with our ambiguous use of language.

  13. List

    The Dutch/Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal is best known for his digital artworks that often take the form of webpages but as he told us at our 2013 creative symposium Here he is increasingly interested in exploring his fascination with light and colour in real-world scenarios. Most recently this has taken the form of his hyper-colourful abstract lenticular paintings, which are made up of layers of different frames and so appear to move when viewed from different angles.